Review: Tivoli Audio NetWorks
June 27, 2008
This Wi-Fi-enabled radio is pricey, but at least it looks it. And for Internet radio lovers, it's well worth the splurge.
MSRP: $599.99 (for base unit)
Pros: Wi-Fi streaming of stations around the world; PC music streaming; elegant design
There are thousands and thousands of great radio stations available online, but the problem is that you need to be at your computer to listen to them. What we need is for the tabletop radio to take an evolutionary step forward, so that it can receive any streamed station in the world. What we need, in other words, is the Tivoli NetWorks.
The NetWorks is a Wi-Fi-enabled radio that connects through your 802.11b or g wireless network to an amazing array of stations. If you don't like the radio choices in your city, pick up the NetWorks and you'll never be bored again.
The house of Tivoli is known for elegant, sophisticated product designs, and the NetWorks continues that. The unit measures 5.5- by 8.7- by 5.1-inches and comes in three finishes: walnut, cherry, and Wengé. The front holds a four-line display, a speaker, and absolutely no controls. Even the top holds only a power/snooze button. For all the other functions, you'll need to use the credit card-sized remote.
Ports on the underside let you connect an optional second speaker, connect to your home network via an Ethernet cable, or add an auxiliary device, like an iPod.
Before you can begin streaming, you'll need to connect the radio to your home network. Input your network's security code once and you're done. Hold down the Menu button on the remote to access the main menu. You can then turn on a SuperBuffer, to prevent any interruptions from weak connections, or set the time, date, and two alarms. We rarely needed the SuperBuffer in our testing, as most stations played fine with the standard buffer. Leave the standard buffer on and you can change stations more quickly.
A world of choices
To start picking stations, hold down the Menu button on the remote and enter the Station List. From here you can choose stations based on genre or location, and can even search for podcasts. Stations you've listened to are automatically entered onto a Last Listened list. You can also save your top five stations with preset buttons, or keep track of others with the Favorites list.
We were impressed with the range of stations we could pull in with the NetWorks. Stations from India to Fiji came through perfectly clearly. The celebrated free-form station WFMU came through stronger on the NetWorks than with a regular FM radio, even though its signal originates from our town. We could even pull in JFK airport tower transmissions and NYPD radio calls. Cool.
The NetWorks can also connect to a networked Windows XP or Vista computer running Windows Media Player 11, to stream stored unprotected tracks. The manual details how to set up the computer settings. It worked perfectly in our testing and let us play our tracks from anywhere in the house.
While the NetWorks is a blast to use, we have a few features we'd love to see. It would be great if the radio held a cache, so that users could pause a stream and resume it later, after a phone call, perhaps. We'd also like to see the station list held in memory, so it doesnt need to be loaded every time a user goes to look up a station.
The basic NetWorks setup sells for $599.99, although there are a few other options. You can add in FM functionality for $50 more or add a matching second speaker for $100 more. Tivoli also sells a matching CD player ($299.99) and subwoofer ($159.99).
If you're ready for the next great leap in radio entertainment, pick up the Tivoli NetWorks. It brings a world of entertainment to your home.
Troy Dreier is a regular contributor to Web Video Universe, PDA Street, Intranet Journal, and Laptop Magazine. He also writes a weekly consumer technology column, which is published in the Jersey Journal newspaper and distributed by the Newhouse News Service. His first book, CNET Do-It-Yourself Home Video Projects: 24 Cool Things You Didn't Know You Could Do, was published by McGraw-Hill in August.